All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake


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NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER - NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - A renowned historian traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women to craft a "deeply layered and insightful" (The Washington Post) testament to people who are left out of the archives.

WINNER: Frederick Douglass Book Prize, Harriet Tubman Prize, PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize, Lawrence W. Levine Award, Darlene Clark Hine Award, Cundill History Prize, Joan Kelly Memorial Prize, Massachusetts Book Award

ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Washington Post, Slate, Vulture, Publishers Weekly

"A history told with brilliance and tenderness and fearlessness."--Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States

In 1850s South Carolina, an enslaved woman named Rose faced a crisis: the imminent sale of her daughter Ashley. Thinking quickly, she packed a cotton bag for her with a few items, and, soon after, the nine-year-old girl was separated from her mother and sold. Decades later, Ashley's granddaughter Ruth embroidered this family history on the sack in spare, haunting language.

Historian Tiya Miles carefully traces these women's faint presence in archival records, and, where archives fall short, she turns to objects, art, and the environment to write a singular history of the experience of slavery, and the uncertain freedom afterward, in the United States. All That She Carried is a poignant story of resilience and love passed down against steep odds. It honors the creativity and resourcefulness of people who preserved family ties when official systems refused to do so, and it serves as a visionary illustration of how to reconstruct and recount their stories today

FINALIST: MAAH Stone Book Award, Kirkus Prize, Mark Lynton History Prize, Chatauqua Prize

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, NPR, Time, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smithsonian Magazine, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ms. magazine, Book Riot, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist

Author: Tiya Miles
Binding Type: Paperback
Publisher: Random House Trade
Published: 02/01/2022
Pages: 416
Weight: 0.65lbs
Size: 7.90h x 5.10w x 1.00d
ISBN: 9781984855015


Award: Kirkus Prize - Finalist


Review Citation(s):
Shelf Awareness 02/11/2022

About the Author
Tiya Miles is professor of history and Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and director of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. She is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and the Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Miles is the author of The Dawn of Detroit, which won the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, among other honors, as well as the acclaimed books Ties That Bind, The House on Diamond Hill, The Cherokee Rose: A Novel of Gardens and Ghosts, and Tales from the Haunted South, a published lecture series.

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